Sanders dismissed the idea that he’d endanger Obama’s hard-won victories, insisting: “No one is tearing this up. We’re going to go forward.”
Clinton also rapped Sanders for voting repeatedly with the National Rifle Association while in Congress, welcoming his weekend reversal to support legislation that would deny gun manufacturers legal immunity. She rattled off a list of provisions that she said Sanders had supported in line with the NRA.
Sanders, in turn, said Clinton’s assertions were “very disingenuous” and pointed to his lifetime rating of a D- from the NRA.
The debate over gun control took on a special importance given the event was just blocks from the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where nine parishioners were killed during Bible study last summer. Clinton has made the issue a central theme of her campaign, citing it as one of the major differences between the candidates.
The two tangled over financial policy, too, with Sanders suggesting Clinton won’t be tough enough on Wall Street given the big contributions and speaking fees she’s accepted from the nation’s financial firms.
Clinton, in turn, faulted Sanders’ past votes to deregulate financial markets and ease up on federal oversight.
Then, she took a step back to put those differences in a different perspective.
“We’re at least having a vigorous debate about reining in Wall Street,” she said. “The Republicans want to give them more power.”
Both Sanders and Clinton voiced strong support for Obama’s diplomatic overtures to Iran and opposition to sending U.S. ground troops into Syria. Clinton defended her outreach to Russia early in her term as secretary of state, but hesitated when asked to describe her relationship with Vladimir Putin, whose return to the Russian presidency heralded the worsening of U.S.-Russian relations.
“My relationship with him — it’s interesting,” Clinton said to laughs in the debate hall. “It’s one, I think, of respect.” But she added it was critical for the next president to stand up to Putin, describing him as a bully who “will take as much as he possibly can.”
Clinton also shed some light on what role her husband, former President Bill Clinton, would play in her administration. Kitchen table adviser, perhaps?
“It’ll start at the kitchen table — we’ll see where it goes from there,” she said with a laugh.
Then, pointing to the successes of her husband’s administration, she added: “You bet I’m going to ask for his ideas. I’m going to ask for his advice.”